Combining the charm of the Lone Rider with ultramodern technology, Knight Rider enraptured audiences in the 1980s. Its showrunner, Glen A. Larson felt that audiences needed a new series that presented the tales of a lone vigilante moved from town to town. With people no longer caring for westerns and horses, he decided to borrow ideas from other popular media. Noting the popularity of AIs like HAL, he decided that his vigilante required an advanced car with artificial intelligence to drive in. With these elements in place, Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. became the starring characters of the show.
Despite Larson’s faith in his new series, the network reluctantly agreed to air the series. Other series had presented a talking car, such as 1965’s My Mother The Car, but none of them fared well. They also felt that David Hasselhoff could not appeal to audiences as a lead actor. The man had started as a soap opera actor in The Young and the Restless and failed spectacularly with his first attempt to break away, Semi-Tough. With so little faith in the show, its near immediate success took them by surprise.
Since the show centered around the journey of one man through a shadowy world filled with crime, it focused on its characters. Without their charm and personalities, the show would have never captured the hearts of viewers. Beyond the characters, the show’s forward-thinking view on technology wowed the masses. Many dreamed of a day when they could own a car like K.I.T.T. So, join us as we explore the top ten characters and vehicles from the Knight Rider series.
Presenting the greatest characters and vehicles from Knight Rider
10. Reginald Cornelius III (RC3)
In the fourth season, Knight Rider expanded the cast to include a new technician, Reginald Cornelius III, RC3 for short. Having grown up in Chicago, RC3 decided to help his community and take a stand against crime. After creating a rubbery copy of his brother’s assault rifle, he deceived gangs and thugs into believing it was real. In his quest to clean up the streets, he took on the name Street Avenger.
This all changed when he met Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. He gained their attention as he scared off two hooligans who tried to break into K.I.T.T. Later, he proved his worth to the team by helping Bonnie rebuild K.I.T.T. after the Juggernaut nearly destroyed him. Secretly, he added new features to the car of the future, granting it a convertible mode.
Thanks to his excellent work on K.I.T.T.’s redesign, the Foundation offered RC3 a job as one of the car’s engineers. As both RC3 and the Foundation aimed to help the innocent, he happily joined. So, he helped Bonnie as her assistant as well as drove the FLAG Mobile Unit. He also gained such a close friendship with Michael that he became the best man at Michael’s wedding.
As Knight Rider moved into its second season, Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. faced one of their most deadly challenges. Commissioned by an African general, Tsombe Kuna, Elizabeth and Garthe Knight built a massive semi that could transport stolen missiles. Knowing this truck would storm military installations to steal the equipment, they aimed to create an unstoppable beast. So, they stole the formula to K.I.T.T.’s molecular bonded shell to fortify this truck.
Beyond its tough exterior, Goliath held four missile pods, allowing the truck to fire up to twenty missiles. It also featured sleeping gas projectors in its front grill. So, while those with conventional armory could leave a scratch on the truck, it could devastate its foes.
When K.I.T.T. initially attempted to take on Goliath, Michael tried to face the behemoth head-on. While this tactic worked on a self-serving AI like K.A.R.R., it failed spectacularly on Goliath. The collision with this truck severely damaged K.I.T.T. Upon their rematch, the pair brought down Goliath by exploiting the weakness in its trailer hitch.
Even though the pair had defeated Goliath, the beast rose again in a later episode. After escaping from prison, Garthe Knight found that his new partner in crime, Adrianne Margeaux, had rebuilt Goliath. She removed the truck’s weaknesses, creating an even more unstoppable beast. Despite how reinforced the truck was, it could not prevent Garthe from driving so fast that he drove over a cliff.
8. April Curtis
After the network fired Patricia McPherson, they wrote Bonnie out from the show. However, K.I.T.T. still required a specialized technician that understood his complex engineering. So, Rebecca Holden joined the cast as April Curtis. Even though she stood in the shadow of Bonnie, she still succeeded on her own merits as K.I.T.T.’s technician.
From the start of season 2, April made significant upgrades to K.I.T.T. After his run-in with Goliath, she crafted a powerful laser weapon that she mounted under his scanner. This laser proved essential to take down foes like Goliath. Later, when Adrianne Margeaux convinced Randy Merritt to hack K.I.T.T.’s system, effectively stealing the car, she temporarily rebuilt K.I.T.T.’s AI module into a portable television set.
The show expanded on April’s personal life during the events of “Race for Life”, where audiences met her niece, Becky. As her niece required a bone marrow transplant to survive, April enlisted Michael Knight in helping her find a compatible donor. As Michael convinced Julio Rodriguez to become the donor, April faithfully sat by the child’s bedside.
Unfortunately, April only remained a part of the team for a single season. Audiences had already fallen in love with Bonnie Barstow, so they sent in pleas for the network to reinstall their favorite technician. Moreover, the show replaced the two mechanics without a single explanation. Just as April became K.I.T.T.’s mechanic without a single word, she vanished without a single nod.
7. FLAG Mobile Unit
Nearly as ubiquitous as K.I.T.T., the FLAG Mobile Unit became an iconic sight in the show. As Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. traveled from town to town across the American countryside, they could not always stay close to a FLAG or Knight Industries installation. So, the Foundation required a repair unit that could travel to where the duo was at any time. However, since the Knight Industries Two Thousand was a top-secret project, they could not make this unit obvious.
Thus, Knight Industries provided a specialized truck that housed all the technology and tools to aid with Michael Knight’s mission. To keep the purpose of this truck secret, K.I.T.T. boarded the mobile unit while it was still driving. To carry out this feat, he matched speed with the truck before driving up its specialized ramp.
Within the unit, FLAG members like Bonnie Barstow and April Curtis looked over K.I.T.T. This unit often carried enough tools and components to repair most damage. The computers on the truck also allowed the team to evaluate data surrounding Michael’s various missions. Devon Miles often met up with Michael within the mobile unit to discuss potential and current missions.
6. Bonnie Barstow
As Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. set off on their adventures in the shadowy world of the Knight Rider, they required a support team. Serving as K.I.T.T.’s primary engineer and technician, Bonnie Barstow oversaw the repairs and upgrades for the car of the future. Even before she joined Michael’s team, she worked for Knight Industries as a lead design engineer for the Knight Industries Two Thousand. So, she was a natural choice for K.I.T.T.’s primary mechanic and technician.
As part of K.I.T.T.’s repair staff, Bonnie became a target for FLAG’s various foes. During the first season, the Helios society lured Bonnie into their clutches by making her an esteemed member. Since they only granted entry to people with genius levels of I.Q., she easily accepted the nomination. Moreover, her entry would help them investigate the mysterious deaths of Helios members. Unfortunately, she became the victim of a mind-control scheme, which the Helios society’s leader, Graham Deauville, masterminded. Under his sway, she hacked K.I.T.T. and almost helped with a heist.
Bonnie vanished from the cast during the second season without a single explanation. However, upon her return to the cast, she explained that she had left to pursue graduate studies. Thus, she remained a mainstay to the cast during the third and fourth seasons.
5. Garthe Knight
For a year, Michael Knight believed that Knight Industries gave him a unique new face that belonged to no living man. They specifically told him that he was now a man who does not exist. So, the reveal that his face belonged to Wilton Knight’s estranged son, Garthe, floored him. The Foundation explained that Wilton believed that Garthe would forever remain locked up for his crimes in an African prison. Thus, they felt there was little chance of Michael’s borrowed face becoming an issue.
Despite the Foundation’s confidence that Garthe would never get out of prison, they could not foresee the power of bribes. Bribing the top officials at the prison, Elizabeth Knight secured her son’s freedom. However, she remained obligated to work with one of their generals, Tsombe, and provide a means to steal missiles and other weaponry. Thus, the pair began work on Goliath, a giant semi-truck with missile pods and other weaponry.
As Garthe Knight learned of Michael Knight’s existence, he became obsessed with proving that he was superior in every way. He absolutely hated that his father replaced him by giving his face to another man. So, Goliath became a project to prove his ability to create a device more powerful than Michael and K.I.T.T.
Even after his initial attempt with Goliath failed, Garthe broke free from prison and attempted again. With an improved Goliath, he challenged Michael once more. Unfortunately, his temper got the better of him, and he drove Goliath off a cliff.
As Knight Industries dreamed of the car of tomorrow, they tested several designs before they fully developed K.I.T.T. One of these designs nearly made it fully through production. The Knight’s Automated Roving Robot, K.A.R.R. for short, housed all the technology that K.I.T.T. would later house. Unfortunately, they programmed his artificial intelligence with a priority to self-preservation. This programming allowed K.A.R.R. to become a possibly dangerous tool to both his enemies and drivers. So, Knight Industries shut down the project and put K.A.R.R. in storage.
As thieves broke into K.A.R.R.’s storage unit, they reactivated the AI unit before escaping within him. K.A.R.R. quickly pressured the thieves into following his orders. As he discovered K.I.T.T., he became determined to prove that he was the superior model. So, he eventually challenged Michael and K.I.T.T. in a head-to-head collision. Unfortunately, his self-preservation protocols forced K.A.R.R. to become the one to pull out, sending him careening off a cliff.
Later, a young couple discovered K.A.R.R.’s wreckage on a beach. Upon reactivating once more, K.A.R.R. convinced John Stanton to repair him, giving him a new dual-toned appearance. Once fully functional, K.A.R.R. set off to get revenge on Michael and K.I.T.T. This confrontation led to a mid-air collision with K.I.T.T., which caused K.A.R.R. to explode. While his body was decimated, his CPU remained fully functional.
3. Devon Miles
As Wilton Knight dreamed of creating a covert agency that would uphold the laws around the country, he enlisted an ex-SIS member to his cause. Devon Miles believed in Wilton’s dream, so he oversaw the creation of both K.A.R.R. and K.I.T.T. He then oversaw the surgery that gave Michael Long the face of Garthe Knight before he formally introduced the man to the Foundation. As he set Michael as FLAG’s premier field agent, he introduced the man to K.I.T.T.
For most missions, Michael Knight reported in to receive advice, guidance, and orders from Devon Miles. Knight looked up to Devon as an upstanding gentleman with a strong moral compass. Even though Devon Miles became the director of FLAG after Wilton’s death, he reported to the board of directors. So, occasionally, he delivered missions directly from that board.
Michael quickly found that Devon Miles dedicated himself to following the law as well as upholding it. So, he became ecstatic when he heard that he had to bail Devon out of a small county jail. Initially, he believed that Devon had somehow made a minor infraction of the law, which led to his stay in jail. Unfortunately, the local police officers had set up a trap to swindle outsiders out of money. The county even tried to make Devon disappear after he became a witness to a murder in the jail. Thanks to Devon’s teachings, Michael had the skills and knowledge to take down the corrupt judge and the police officers that held Devon prisoner.
2. Michael Knight
Originally, Michael Long was an upstanding officer for the LAPD, where he worked as a detective. While on a special assignment, he fell into a trap that Tanya Walker set for him. After Tanya betrayed his trust, she shot him in the face, leaving him for dead. Fortunately, the millionaire Wilton Knight rescued Michael before he passed away.
Seeing a man that could help him fight criminals around the country, Wilton paid for Michael Knight’s reconstructive surgery. Rather than restoring Long’s original face, he arranged for Michael to receive a face that resembled his estranged son, Garthe Knight. Meanwhile, he arranged a new identity and life for the man. Thus, Michael woke up to a new life as Michael Knight.
As Michael adjusted to his new life, Devon Miles introduced him to his vehicle, K.I.T.T. While he was initially skeptical about the machine, he quickly bonded with K.I.T.T. As the pair traveled from town to town, Michael trusted K.I.T.T. to back him up.
Michael’s charm easily allowed him to ally with multiple people across the nation, especially multiple women. As he befriended and helped people, he often introduced them to his car, K.I.T.T. However, he occasionally had a less than favorable individual within K.I.T.T.’s cab. During such times, he felt no qualms about utilizing the ejector seat.
As Wilton Knight dreamed of an independent foundation that would uphold the law and government of the land, he began a project for the car of the future. So, he arranged for Devon Miles to oversee the construction of the most advanced vehicle ever built. While they developed a molecular bonded shell to protect the vehicle from most weaponry, they began designing a CPU with artificial intelligence. While their first working prototype had defective programming, they struck gold as they finalized the programming for the Knight Industries Two Thousand.
As Michael Knight joined the Foundation, Devon Miles introduced him to the car of the future. As Knight Industries programmed K.I.T.T. to only listen to and protect Michael Knight, he happily became the man’s partner. Even while Michael was reluctant to talk and bond with a car, K.I.T.T. faithfully followed his orders. Eventually, K.I.T.T.’s abilities and charm grew on Michael, leading to a successful partnership.
As the pair faced new challenges, K.I.T.T. gained various new abilities. For instance, he originally had a turbo boost that allowed the car to accelerate to two hundred miles per hour. When combined with his Trajectory Guidance System, Kitt could activate front-mounted rocket motors to jump up to forty feet into the air. K.I.T.T. also gained a grappling hook as well as a high-powered laser weapon.
When K.I.T.T. suffered catastrophic damage, Bonnie and RC3 rebuilt him, granting him a transformation sequence. With the Super Pursuit Mode, K.I.T.T. could achieve speeds up to three hundred miles per hour. His redesign also granted him a new mode that turned him into a convertible.
What were your favorite Knight Rider Characters?
Today, we have shared our picks for the top ten characters from 1982’s Knight Rider series. Each of these characters charmed their way into the hearts of audiences. However, we would love to hear from you. What were your favorite characters from the show? Let us know in the comments below.
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